Morph Cut Transitions

NLEs

Jump cuts can be a pain to deal with when cutting interviews and other types of video projects. Sometimes your talent talks too long or you need to hide unnecessary motion. All conventional wisdom says the best way to hide a jump cut is to use a cutaway or b-roll. I wholeheartedly agree and use that wisdom quite often in my own work. However, there are times when those options don’t exist and you are left with jarring jump cuts that can distract or interrupt the piece. Thanks to technological advances in editing software, there are ways to hide a jump using a Morph Cut transition. I’m going to highlight how each of the three top NLEs on the market are able to do this.

Avid Media Composer Fluid Morph

The Fluid Morph effect predates any other morph cut transition that has been brought to the market lately. In this tutorial, GeniusDV master trainer Jon Lynn shows us how to use the Fluid Morph effect to hide jump cuts on an interview clip. First, he makes blade edits at certain points, and then adds the Fluid Morph effect. In the Effect Mode panel, he changes a few parameters and sets the duration to three frames long. After a quick render, you see that the Fluid Morph was able to hide the jump cut in the interview. From what I know about diehard users of Media Composer, this effect exists in many of their favorite effects bins.

Adobe Premiere Pro Morph Cut

Introduced back in April 2015, the new Premiere Pro Morph Cut transition works to hide jump cuts between edits. Located in the Dissolve category of Video Transitions section, this transition analyzes in the background and attempts to morph frames together to create a seamless transition from multiple frames. From personal experience, I’ve found this transition works best on interviews with static backgrounds and not a lot of motion from the talent. Otherwise, it can be a hot mess when applied. Overall, I see this transition getting better with time as Adobe engineers improve the code base.

Final Cut Pro X mMorph Cut

This recent release from MotionVFX brings Morph Cut transitions to the world of Final Cut Pro X. For just $59, you can salvage interviews from long pauses, stutters, and mistakes. The transition works fluidly to fill gaps and instantly smooth out shots. I haven’t had a chance to try it out myself, but based on the demos I’ve seen, this seems like a must-have for editors who do a lot of interview work. With all the innovation that FCPX has brought to the table, I was a bit surprised that it took this long to finally get this plugin. I’ve seen tutorials where it was possible to do this but it seemed rather tedious in execution. It’s good to see that FCPX has this ability.

From what you have seen here, the Morph Cut method of hiding a jump cut can work depending on the footage and the circumstances on which you use it. While not perfect by any means, it is a method that can be called upon to smooth out an interview or other type of video project. Try using the Morph Cut method on your next video project and see how it effects your final edit.

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FCPX Tips and Tricks Volume 2

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One of the things I’ve enjoyed about learning the inner workings of Final Cut Pro X is how to work faster despite having a different editing paradigm. Getting used to the magnetic timeline was a struggle at first, but now I’ve become accustomed to it. I find myself trying to do things that are akin to the magnetic timeline that don’t exist in track based NLEs. However, I discovered new tips and tricks from users across the world that make my FCPX experience more enjoyable. I’m going to highlight a few tips that hopefully help you in your FCPX experience.

Connected Clip Tricks

In this episode of MacBreak Studio, the folks at Ripple Training show us how to deal with connected clips. As great as the magnetic timeline can be, dealing with connected clips can be cumbersome. Their first tip involves changing a connected clip to a different primary clip. Holding down the option key, Mark clicks on the bottom of the connected clip and changes the connect to a different clip in the primary storyline.

The next tip involves deleting a primary clip and leaving the connected clip in place, or creating a ripple edit. If you hold down the Shift key and press delete, the primary storyline clip will disappear and the connected clip will be placed above a gap clip. To get the ripple edit, hold down option + command+ delete to perform the delete selection shortcut.

The final tip involves slipping a clip in the primary storyline without moving the connected clip. Holding down the tilde key and pressing the T key, you can slip your primary clip while retaining the position of the connected clip in the secondary storyline. A bonus tip is offered which showcases how to have the override connections command in place until you turn them off. Holding down the tilde key and the command key, let go of the tilde key and the override command will be active until you press the command key again.

Overall, this collection of tips got me excited at how much faster I could move FCPX, and knowing how to navigate the tedious nature of the secondary storyline.

Fast Editing With Clip Skimmer

In another edition of MacBreak Studio, the folks at Ripple Training offer insight into using the clip skimmer to navigate the intricacies of the primary and secondary storylines. With clip skimming enabled and the main skimmer disabled, users can focus on clips solely in the primary or secondary storyline. Using the clip skimmer enabled and the main skimmer disabled, they are able to make targeted ripple edits in primary and secondary storylines without effecting the entire timeline. They also highlight how much easier it is to insert clips into the secondary storyline when the clip skimmer is enabled so that you can be a power user.

Starting Up FCPX

When you open FCPX from the dock or applications folder, it usually opens the last library or libraries you were working in. But what if you want to select which libraries FCPX opens upon startup? The folks at fcpx.at inform us that by holding down the option key at startup, you will be presented with a dialog box showing you all available libraries. Selecting one of the available libraries or using the Locate function to add another library will open that library in FCPX.

Another way to chose which library opens when you start FCPX is to use the inexpensive companion application, Library Manager. The application has the ability to create libraries from scratch and open libraries by themselves if you chose.

Overall, I’ve found these tips to be extremely helpful in getting much more knowledgeable about how FCPX functions. Learning these tips have given me a great appreciation for the application and has suppressed my frustrations I had when it first came out. Try these tips yourself and become the power user of FCPX that you want to be.

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Nodes 2 from Yanobox

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Avengers. Ender’s Game. Iron Man 3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes. These are just a few films that have had the opportunity to utilize the plugin known as Nodes. With the release of Nodes 2, Yanobox has upped the ante with what this plugin can do. This motion graphic tool can import 3D models, interact with the After Effects camera, link text and images to individual nodes, and so much more. The best part is it supports the most popular editing and compositing programs on the market including: After Effects, Motion, Final Cut Pro X, and Premiere Pro. If you don’t believe how awesome and intricate this plugin is, take a look at this demo below:

I’ve had a chance to try out Nodes 2 myself and I was extremely impressed with how quickly I was able to pick it up. Here are a few quick examples of what I was able to create on my own, which to my surprise, rendered very quickly on my iMac. On top of that, I like that I can create certain animations with ease compared to plugins like Trapcode Form or Particular.

Overall, Nodes 2 is an incredible plugin that needs to be experienced firsthand to admire its depth. With this plugin, I am able to create breathtaking and stylized motion graphics that would require multiple plugins and tinkering to achieve the look Nodes can create effortlessly. I’ve always been a fan of the Yanobox plugins, and this Nodes sequel more than lives up to its predecessor. I like how the controls are easy to experiment with, as well as the presets. The presets provide a great starting point and can be manipulated at will. The fine folks of Noise Industries have provided very detailed tutorials for your favorite software application, which you can check out here:

If you are looking for a plugin that imports stunning 3D models, build networks of node structures, and allows you to create an limitless amount of text and image connections, then look no further than Yanobox Nodes 2. At the price of $299, it’s a no brainer purchase that will save you hours of work and allow you to explore more creative depths than you can imagine.

Sound Effects

Motion 5 Tutorials

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Since its creation in 2004, Apple Motion has been an application that has evolved quite nicely, despite the fierce competition it faces from other apps like After Effects and Nuke. In its current iteration, Motion provides the plugin architecture for Final Cut Pro X, which means that all FCPX effects are actually Motion templates. With that advantage, users can create just about anything with Motion. Below are a few tutorials where Motion users illustrate how versatile the application is for their workflows.

Creating a Transition for FCPX

This tutorial highlights one of the core features of Motion, which is the ability to create custom transitions. Gone are the days of having to stack layers and utilizing keyframes. With a decent understanding of the Motion interface and its functions, users can create unique transitions to suit their video projects. In this particular example, the author shows users how to create a ripple flash transition from start to finish. When I discovered that you can create transitions and other effects in Motion, I decided to give Motion another try after years of being an After Effects user. I found this tutorial useful because even at the basic level, you can get an understanding of how far you can go with the creation of custom effects.

Animating a Photoshop File

There will be situations where your client wants to create a spot and you have no b-roll. Even worse, you have very minimal images to work with. However, they provide you with a layered, high resolution Photoshop file which you can animate and turn into a motion graphic with a little imagination. In this tutorial, Telemundo editor Brett Gentry shows us how he was able to take a client graphic and turn it into a 30-second spot using a combo of Motion and Photoshop. Utilizing markers, keyframes, and behaviors, he takes what I call a simple “Ken Burns effect” and makes an entertaining spot for an event. I will be first to admit that the Motion interface can be daunting at first glance, but watching how others work in it so efficiently inspires me to learn more.

Creating a Auto Green Screen Keyer with Background

There are projects you receive where the talent was shot on a green screen, and you need to key them out and insert the same background. If this is no more than five people, no big deal. However, if it is multiple talents and it needs to look like they were all keyed and composited the same way, it can become tedious. In the tutorial above, Brett shows us another way he uses Motion to create an auto keyer effect, which will allow him to key not only his talent, but insert/manipulate the background he wants behind them. This is convenient when you need to cut multiple spots or short form videos and time is not on your side. This effect is also a viable solution for the scenario I mentioned above with multiple talents. If you publish enough parameters and include the necessary assets, you can save a lot of time by creating an auto keyer effect in Motion.

Text Behind Glass Effect

I’ve highlighted the effects you can create in Motion for workflow tasks like titles, transitions, and effects, but it is always interesting to see how far one can push Motion to create things you would only expect in After Effects. This tutorial above is a prime example of something I wasn’t sure Motion could create. Editor/plugin author Simon Ubsdell takes a concept that originated in After Effects and creates it from scratch in Motion. Using textures, text layers, blend modes, filters, and behaviors, Simon creates this effect which can be used for promos, documentaries, or identifiers. I have to give kudos for the content that Simon has produced as of late. I’ve always believed the reason Motion wasn’t as popular as After Effects was because of the vast community and gurus that are out there. Seeing a dedicated user showcase Motion capabilities peeks my interest to add this tool to my skill set.

Overall, Motion has matured into a intricate and versatile tool that editors should take the time to learn. The market tends to favor the After Effects user, but every now and then there are jobs for people with Motion knowledge. Knowing this tool can benefit you in the long run.

Sound Effects

New Features in FCPX 10.2

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Since NAB happened last week, we were introduced to all the new products and updates to various products for filmmaking. From more efficient user friendly drones, higher end cameras, and software updates, it was a filmmaker’s paradise. One particular update that caught my interest was the release of Final Cut Pro X 10.2. Some of the features that were introduced were needed, and some of them made motion graphics, visual effects, and color grading much easier. I want to highlight three features that I found interesting and offer an opinion on how they will be beneficial to your workflow.

FCPX: 3D Text

One of the newer and greatly appreciated additions to FCPX 10.2 is the ability to create and manipulate real 3D text. Users can tweak animations, materials, reflectivity, and many other options with this new feature. In the past, if you wanted 3D text in your edit, you would go to plugins like Element 3D, mObject, or a dedicated 3D program. From what I’ve seen and played with myself, this is a very intricate feature, and one that requires quite a bit of computing power to truly witness its potential. It would be wise to have a strong Mac on your hands if you plan on utilizing this feature. This 3D text feature is great, and I believe it may minimize the need to run to third party plugins. Many FCPX plugin makes have already stepped up to the plate, such as Ripple Training, MotionVFX, and Stupid Raisins. They offer their own 3D text assets for users to utilize in their projects. I can only see this feature becoming stronger in later updates.

FCPX: Save Effects Preset

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This feature has been long asked for and it finally has appeared; the ability to save effect presets for later use. In the legacy Final Cut Pro, this feature was present along with the ability to save presets in a project. In FCPX 10.2, you can now have saved effects appear in the effects browser, which is much easier than having to do paste attributes all the time. I haven’t had much time to play with this new feature, but if it functions like people say it does, then it is very welcomed.

FCPX: Improved Masks & Color Correction Effect

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The masking feature in FCPX 10.2 now allows their own category in the Effects browser, as well as the ability to keyframe them much easier. The new Draw Mask filter gives you the ability to draw masks which can be linear, bezier, or B-spline smoothing. Also, the Shape Mask now has the ability to convert control points into editable bezier control points. One of the many strengths of FCPX was how strong its masking capabilities were in comparison to other NLEs, and this new feature definitely ramps up its strength. Much more compositing options will now be doable without leaving the comfort of your NLE.

Another new feature introduced is color correction is now an effect. In the Effect Browser, you can choose the Color Correction effect and place it on your effect. From there, it will open up the Color Board and allow for further tweaking. Since it is now treated as an Effect, you can apply color correction before video filters, or insert multiple color correction filters anywhere in the stack of video filters. After you stack and arrange the processing order of multiple corrections and filters in the Inspector, you can save this look as an Effects Preset for for re-use.

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As you can see, the new features available in Final Cut Pro X 10.2 have shown that Apple is serious about the filmmaking community. In time, I hope they address other grievances editors have with the program so that it can be an easier sell to hold outs. Overall, I think these new additions showcase how much potential lies within this program, and I look forward to what they will include next.

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Lower Third Tutorial Round-Up

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Lower thirds, supers or CGs as they are also called, are those graphics you see on the screen when someone is being identified. You see them on reality television, the news, sports games, and documentaries. They usually have one to three tiers which can have the person’s first and last name at the top, and at the bottom, an occupation, residency, or position they occupy. Another characteristic of lower thirds is that they are placed in the title safe area of the screen so they don’t get cut off (these are usually network specifications). One thing about lower thirds is that they are by far the most sold item on motion graphics marketplaces. You could go to a variety of sites and look at galleries of lower thirds which you can purchase for your own videos. However, you may not always have the luxury of purchasing lower thirds, so it helps to know how to create these from scratch to keep costs down. In the three videos below, I highlight tutorials for how to create lower thirds from scratch for programs such as After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Motion. After you take a look at these videos, you can apply some of the knowledge you’ve learned and get to creating your lower third graphics.

Lower Third (After Effects) Tutorial

In this After Effects tutorial, Phil Ebiner shows us how he creates simple and clean lower thirds. As he states in the tutorial, he looks to other sites for inspiration before he starts creating. Utilizing a combination of solids, masks, and shape layers, he is able to create a lower third that would work in just about any occasion. When creating lower thirds, it takes a lot of layers to achieve the ideal look so be prepared for using precompositions, parenting, and lots of keyframes to maintain a clean and organized timeline.  What I like about this tutorial is that it has nice pacing, and within less than 20 minutes, you can have a lower third that can be used and modified to your needs. If you are using After Effects CC, you can turn this lower third into a LiveText template for use in Premiere Pro. If you aren’t as skilled in After Effects and prefer Motion instead, you can learn to create lower thirds there as well.

Lower Third (Motion 5) Tutorial

In this Motion 5 tutorial, author HalfGlassFull shows us how to create a complex lower third for broadcast. He first sets up his placeholder text layers in the position he wants. From there, he begins creating different shapes as a background for the text layers. Once he sets up the design of the lower third, he begins to implement behaviors to animate elements of the lower third to his liking. To finish it off, he shows you how to publish the lower third for use in Final Cut Pro X. Overall, this is an easy to follow tutorial and really helps reduce the learning curve that some people may have when using Motion for the first time. Also, the ease at which Motion projects can be integrated into Final Cut Pro X for multiple uses. As great as it is to create lower thirds in graphics programs like After Effects and Motion, sometimes you want the ability to do it without leaving your NLE. Let’s see how to do this in Premiere Pro.

Lower Third (Premiere Pro) Tutorial

In this Premiere Pro tutorial, VideoSchoolOnline shows us how to create modern and sleek lower thirds in Premiere Pro. Now, most people wouldn’t look to see if Premiere was capable of this, but a seasoned user would know better. Using layers in the Title Tool, they are able to create a simple two-tier lower third which identifies the talent on the screen. To give it movement, they use position keyframes with a manipulated interpolation. To keep the timeline clean, he nests the lower third into its own sequence. I can tell you from experience that creating simple lower thirds in Premiere is easy. The one caveat is when you need multiple version, it can be a real hassle to deal with, so plan ahead. Overall, it is rather easy to create a quick lower third from scratch, even if you only have your NLE to rely on.

As you can see, creating lower thirds from scratch is a fun exercise and a useful skill to have as an editor. There will be situations where purchasing one seems more viable than creating one from scratch. Depending on the project and client, it benefits you to know how to create one, but also know where to purchase one. Feel free to seek out other tutorials which show you how to create even more complex lower thirds so you can impress your clients.

Sound Effects

Other FCPX Ecosystem Apps

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It’s been about four years since the debut of Final Cut Pro X. In that time, the application has had 14 updates which took it from what some would say is a beta level software not ready for prime-time, to a professional level editing application which is truly groundbreaking. Also in that time, new applications have entered the FCPX ecosystem to help users have as much speed outside the application as they do inside. I want to highlight three applications and a set of folder templates which I believe FCPX users should get their hands on as soon as possible.

ClipExporter 2.0

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ClipExporter is an application that allows users to send their clips to other post production software like Nuke and After Effects. Utilizing the FCPX xml protocol, users take the exported XML file and bring it into ClipExporter. From there, users can choose between the AE exporter, the Nuke exporter, or create trimmed video clips. Choosing either option gives the user the ability to deal with edited clips as opposed to sending an entire clip for further post processing. If you are trying to take your clips to After Effects, the application will generate a jsx file, which AE will read as a script, and load your clips once you run it. Certain items will carry over like resizing, spatial conform, and other modifications, but titles, generators, and such will not. If you are using the Nuke option, it will create a complete folder structure according to your requirements in Nuke. I personally have not used this application even though I have the first version of it. My workflows don’t usually require intense visual effect work so I haven’t had the chance to put it to the test. The newest version (version two) is streamlined much further and runs about $90.

FCPxporter

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FCPxporter is a new application from the folks of FDPtraining.com. It functions to assist FCPX editors in batch exporting projects. In the tutorial above, you’ll first want to tell the app how many projects you want to export. Next, enable your choice of notifications in your System preferences to have the app tell you when things are complete. Inside of FCPX, choose the timelines you want to export, and choose a sharing destination which you want to make default. Choose your export destination and hit Cancel twice. With FCPxporter open and your project number set, hit the Run button to get things in motion. While the application is running, it will tie up all of your computer’s resources so it is best advised that you let it finish the task before you do anything else. Overall, I think this is a nice application to have if you work on projects where you have to export a lot of timelines, like commercials or similar looking videos. I haven’t had a chance to test it myself, but if it is as straightforward as the tutorial indicates, I will definitely add it to my arsenal.

FCPX Folder Templates

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While this is not an application, these folder templates from FDPtraining.com are great for FCPX users who crave instant organization. They are designed to manage all of your project assets. The folders have preassigned finder tags so they are easy to find, or you can import the finder tags as keyword collections into FCPX. These folders will inspire you to be organized and give you another wow factor for deliverables to your clients. They are especially great because they have a template library that integrates well if you use PostHaste for project creation. In my experience of using this, I’ve found these folder templates to be integral in making me a bit faster when doing projects in FCPX. Take a look at the tutorial below and witness for yourself how awesome these are.

toMotion

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toMotion is a free and handy app for installing and backing up Motion Templates. If you download free templates from FCP.co or other websites, then you usually have to manually install the templates in your Movies folder on your desktop, and this can be a pain if you aren’t tech savvy. With this app, it takes the custom templates and gives you the option to install them into the appropriate folder so it will show up in FCPX. I’ve been using it myself for over a year to install custom Motion templates and it works like a charm. I’ve seen other applications that were designed to do this, but I found this one very straightforward and easy to use out of the gate. What surprises me is how few people know about it as it is free and very handy. I strongly recommend adding it to your arsenal if you want to minimize the time spent installing custom Motion templates.

These are some of the new applications and templates available for enhancing the FCPX ecosystem for die-hard users. Each of these applications serve a particular purpose for facilitating an efficient workflow across the board. Feel free to give them a test run to see if they can work for you.

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Editing Wedding Videos in FCP X

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Most often, if you are the wedding videographer, you are also the audio guy, editor, colorist, motion graphics designer, and exporting distributor. The nature of this business dictates wearing many hats in order to maintain a sustainable business model. Unfortunately, choosing the right lens and recording the special moment is only half the battle. And although I’m sure you would much rather stay on the production end of things, the footage needs equal attention and care in post production to create a lasting and memorable work. But not to fret. Today I am here to offer a few essential tips to help ease the tensions of importing and editing down your wedding footage in Final Cut Pro X.

–       Importing and Organizing

–       Editing the Footage

–       Exporting

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IMPORTING AND ORGANIZING

For filearchy and organization purposes, if you shoot a lot of weddings, you will want to keep the files separate from your other work. To do this, I recommend creating a brand new library in Final Cut Pro X by going to FILE > NEW > LIBRARY. I even go one step further and label the Library WEDDINGS 2014, as I will refresh and create a new library for 2015, 2016, and so on. Under the new library, I will add a new event (FILE > NEW > EVENT) for each wedding (Smith Wedding, Morales Wedding, etc). At this point, you need to start adding your footage to these events. When I record weddings, I tend to shoot with a three camera set up (one camera on the bride, one on the groom, and one master wide shot showing bride, groom, officiant, and part of the audience). I log each camera’s footage in its own folder, and then DRAG AND DROP the folder onto their own prospective wedding EVENT in FCPX.

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Once you have all your footage logged and filed correctly, you can start to create projects (FILE > NEW > PROJECT) and name each one for the subject shown (for me that’s ceremony, introductions, cake cutting, best man speech, maid/matron of honor speech, first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, garter ceremony, bouquet toss, and random dancing shots). Each subject needs its own project, as each project is essentially its own timeline to export.

EDITING THE FOOTAGE

Once working on projects, I tend to keep some basic editing formats consistent. First, you can add transitions with Hot Key CMD + T (a cross dissolve will be added at every edit point and break in the timeline).

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I will also tend to punch up the color as needed. If you go to the INSPECTOR under the VIDEO tab, you will find COLOR. Under COLOR, you will see CORRECTION 1 with an arrow (>) next to it (if you hover your mouse you will see SHOW CORRECTION). Click on the arrow to open the correction options.

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You will then be looking at three new tabs: Color, Saturation, and Exposure. With color, I tend to leave it alone as I always white balance with the camera before recording, so I shouldn’t have a need for it in post. For saturation, I like to punch it up a bit by CLICKING AND DRAGGING UP the MASTER SWITCH on the left, controlling overall saturation.

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Saturation controls how vibrant the colors appear, and I increase it since weddings are a bright and happy day of celebration. If you remove saturation, the image turns drab and bleak. If you move the saturation level to 0%  (rock bottom) your image would turn purely black and white, which, in some instances, can invoke a sense of nostalgia or quiet reflection and could be a nice touch for certain moments, like the father daughter dance, etc. There is no one right way to display your image. I can only offer certain insights and tell you my own reasoning.

Finally, with exposure, I also like to increase the contrast a touch by dropping down the shadows (also known as crushing the blacks) and brightening the whites.

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By increasing the contrast, you give the image more pop and definition, which is important, especially if the bride’s dress is white, so she doesn’t get blown out and lost.

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Instead of color correcting multiple clips in your timeline, you can copy and paste the color correction attribute to each clip and keep a uniformed look. To do this, simply highlight the clip that has the attribute you want to copy and hit CMD + C. Then, highlight the clip you want to give the attribute to and hit CMD + SHIFT + V. This will bring up an attribute window. Check color and hit OK.

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As a final touch for certain dance videos, I will hunt down the source audio file and play the master track over the footage, versus using the camera’s audio. I find this allows the viewer to focus on the moment of everyone dancing and having fun, without dealing with warped canned audio and loud chatter.

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EXPORTING

Exporting has been made rather quick and simple in Final Cut Pro X. Simply go to FILE > SHARE > MASTER FILE (Hot Key CMD + E), and a settings window will appear. Go to the SETTINGS tab. Make sure the VIDEO CODEC is set to H.264 for the best compression rate, and ROLES AS is set to QUICKTIME MOVIE. From there, select NEXT > Choose your destination, give the file a name based on the subject (ceremony, best man speech, etc,), and hit SAVE to begin the render process.

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Editing Montages with FCP X

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Montages can be more than just a compilation of images and video clips. A montage has the potential to tell an entire story to the viewer. In this tutorial, I will give you some tips and tricks to turn your string of images into a powerfully crafted story that, in my opinion, elevates the consensus of the standard montage expectation using Final Cut Pro X.

–       Understanding the Mechanics

–       Cutting to the beat

–       Recording Voice Overs

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UNDERSTANDING THE MECHANICS

By definition, a montage is “the technique of producing a new composite whole from fragments of pictures, text, or music.” So, in order to create a montage we need images or video clips (or BOTH!), a musical number, and maybe a voiceover recording (pre recorded or written for match recording). The images and videos provide the details, whereas music and voiceover provide the underlying emotion. It is crucial to choose the right audio track as it sets the entire tone and pace for the montage. When creating transitions between images, it’s best to use cross dissolves for unrelated moments (a beautiful beach landscape cross dissolves into a majestic mountain peak). However, if the content relates and there is a story being told, it is better to cut between shots (a beautiful beach landscape cuts to a shot of a couple holding hands walking along the waterline).

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CUTTING TO THE BEAT

You will want to cut to the beat of the music by marking and using peaks and valleys (high and low points) in the audio waveform for precision. If you hold on a shot across the beat, it gives more power and attention to that image.

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In the musical track I chose, there was a peak at every five seconds, so I placed a marker there for a visual aid as I cut my images and video clips to the track. To add a marker simply hit ‘M’ on your keyboard while over the segment of the timeline you want to mark. If you double click on it, you have the ability to change or delete it.

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Find the music you will want to edit to (AudioMicro.com offers a great variety of tracks to choose from) and place markers on the beats peaks (high points) or valleys (low points) you want to cut shots between. Additionally in FCPX, you can make the audio beat the primary line, and the video clips secondary, in order to be able to trim the clips down to match the beat easier. If the audio beat is the first thing on your timeline simply CLICK AND DRAG the beat to the center main track to make it the primary point of editing.

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A final tip on cutting your beat to your images would be to mix things up! If your beat has a very rhythmic peak or valley every few seconds, it would be a good idea to hold some clips longer every so often. If you cut your shot every few seconds, the viewer will then begin to anticipate the edit change and not focus nearly as intently on the images being shown and the story being conveyed.

RECORDING VOICE OVERS

If you have a script for a voice over, then you need to make sure your tone matches the content (if the content is somber make sure you sound somber, and if it is lively be lively). Nothing drags down a montage as quickly as a poorly executed voice over dragging down the entire production. I recommend external audio recording equipment like a Blue Yeti recording mic for high quality performance, but some times you can squeak by recording off the computer mic itself as long as you keep the ambient noise around you to a minimum. Some people record voice overs in their closet to help minimize outside ambient tone and reverberation).

In FCPX, recording voice overs has been made even easier than in past iterations of the Final Cut software. Simply go to WINDOW > RECORD VOICE OVER.

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A new window will open with the controls, and by default the INPUT will be set to your built in mic. If you are using an external mic, this would be the point to change the input to your proper third party recorder. At this point, simply hit the RED RECORD BUTTON. You will receive a three second countdown and you can start speaking from that point forward.

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Montages require special attention to become something great. As long as you pay attention to the content, review numerous successful and failed montages online, and follow these suggestions, you will be able to elevate your work.

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FCPX Animation Tools

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I’ve been envious of the plugins that FCPX has had since its inception. The one thing that amazes me about the Final Cut Pro X ecosystem is the availability of plugins that allow you to create amazing things right inside the program; otherwise difficult in other NLEs. With effects and transitions being based on Motion templates, developers sprang out of the woodwork and seized the opportunity to offer products that would streamline the editing and motion graphics creation that a user could perform within FCPX. The creative possibilities put FCPX above most NLEs in the market. I want to highlight a selection of animation plugins from a variety of vendors which streamline user abilities to create animation inside of Final Cut Pro X

mModules

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This product is a collection of self animating icons and modular elements that you can use in FCPX. Created by the team from MotionVFX, these elements are easy to combine and modify within FCPX. This product is great for doing quick infographics without having to create elements from scratch. What I like about this product is that it’s based on title layers, which offer infinite creative possibilities. There are so many parameters to modify that you don’t need to settle for default animations. This product currently comes in two different categories: Corporate and Essentials. At the price of $49 each, it’s a no brainer purchase for quick infographic based animations.

Callouts 2.0

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Created by the team at Ripple Training, Callouts is a Final Cut Pro X plugin that gives you the power of emphasis to remove distractions and draw your audience’s attention exactly where you want it focused. This is a great product for projects where you have to highlight tips for training, or to emulate the pop up look from VH-1’s Pop Up video. Using the FxFactory application, you gain access to 22 callouts which can be used immediately in FCPX. Working as title based effects, you can modify the color, position, gloss, and other parameters for whichever callout you choose.

Story Pop

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A new plugin to the growing FxFactory product line, Stupid Raisins’s Story Pop is a collection of over 400 animated and customizable Final Cut Pro X whiteboard style drawings designed for HD. Built to emulate the look of a cartoonist drawing characters from scratch, this animation plugin allows you to pop your story with authentic looking hand drawn whiteboard sketches. I believe this plugin is good for voiceover commercials and illustrating facts with a creative flair. I can see it used for start up companies explaining how their business model works to prospective customers.

Object Animator

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Object Animator is a powerful tool that allows you to quickly add animations to any element on your timeline by simply choosing an option from a drop-down menu. Equipped with over 80 options, Object Animator can save you hours of time, helping you to avoid key-framing animations you commonly do as an editor. I like this animation quite a bit because it comes with an array of animation options that would be rather difficult to do using keyframes in FCPX. One of the biggest benefits of Object Animator is how easy it is to animate your elements onto the timeline. Equipped with axis controls, on screen controls, reflections, and more, this animation tool offers endless possibilities for achieving professional animations in very little time.

Projection

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Projection allows FCPX editors to project a 2D image onto a 3D room. Then with a 3D camera, editors can pan, tilt, and dolly around their environment to observe it from unique and interesting perspectives. This animation tool is great for visual effects artists who need to create 3D backgrounds, or editors who need to project text in a 3D environment. They can take their 2D images, manipulate the paramaters, and have a 3D scene in little time. I believe this plugin is a great animation tool for FCPX users because it reduces the amount of time you would ship this out to something like AE or Motion to achieve projection mapping.

Overall, these are just a few tools that allow editors to achieve complex animations within FCPX without much hassle. I would recommend you check out each vendor for more products that may assist in your editing needs.

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